About 1,720 companies held shareholders’ meetings across Japan on Tuesday to explain their results for the 2003 business year to March 31 and to get approval for dividends and future policies.

The presidents of several major companies apologized for a variety of corporate scandals, ranging from a massive vehicle-defect coverup at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. to a massive fabrication of data concerning routine power plant safety checks at Kansai Electric Power Co.

Yosaku Fuji, president of Kansai Electric, apologized for the data scandal.

“We take the incident seriously and deeply apologize,” he claimed.

Seibu Railway Co., whose chairman has resigned over a scandal involving illegal payoffs, and Takefuji Corp., whose former chairman on trial on wiretapping charges, were also grilled over their company’s scandals.

On April 14, Seibu Railway Chairman Yoshiaki Tsutsumi resigned over a payoff scandal involving a “sokaiya” corporate extortionist and three company executives.

Three Seibu executives were arrested and indicted in March for allegedly giving 890 million yen worth of benefits in connection with real estate deals to a sokaiya who had an equity stake in Seibu Railway. Takefuji’s former chairman, Yasuo Takei, now out on bail, is standing trial on charges of ordering a former Takefuji employee and others to bug the phones of a freelance journalist critical of the leading consumer loan firm and another person between December 2000 and February 2001. Wiretapping is illegal under the Telecommunications Business Law.

Meanwhile, Kinki Nippon Railway Co. President Masanori Yamaguchi sought the support of roughly 2,000 shareholders for a planned merger of the pro baseball teams Kintetsu Buffaloes and Orix BlueWave.

“The company serves the public interest, and we cannot ignore annual losses of 4 billion yen incurred by the (Buffaloes),” Yamaguchi said.

Many shareholders criticized management for not making their utmost efforts to reduce losses.

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